My first blog ‘Keeping It Together’ came to a natural end when I moved in to my studio. ‘Keeping It Going’ picks up where that left off. Will I be able to maintain a blog at the same time as being creative in the studio? Will it help or hinder my practice as an artist?

www.katemurdochartist.com

Follow me on Twitter: @katemurdochart

August 2016: See also my new blog, ‘Keeping It Moving’

https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/keeping-it-moving


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Despite a recent decision to let blog writing take a bit of a back seat, I feel compelled to record details of two exhibitions I managed to see on a recent fleeting visit to Cambridge, both of which left a lasting impression. The first was the ‘Nasty Women’ exhibition in which I had work included.

Nasty Women is a global art movement, originating in the USA, serving to:

‘ …demonstrate solidarity among artists who identify with being a Nasty Woman in the face of threats to roll back women’s rights, individual rights and abortion rights.’

When an opportunity came up to take part in a ‘Nasty Women’ exhibition in Cambridge, my home town, it seemed highly appropriate. Cambridge is the place where I grew up as a young woman in the 1970s – where I socialised and where I was educated. It’s also a place where I first became politically active, particularly in the Women’s Movement. I have vivid memories of boarding a train from Cambridge to London, alongside dozens of other women, to protest against MP John Corrie’s restrictive Bill against abortion. The Corrie bill, as it became known, wanted to reduce the time limit drastically, and restrict the grounds of how a woman could procure an abortion. It’s incredible to think that my recent return to Cambridge essentially involved protecting the same rights for women, as I did in 1979!

I was particularly drawn to the work of artist Lisa O’Donnell, photographed below, when I visited ArtSpace in Cambridge.  This work highlights the 8th Amendment, which refers to the constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland. This particular piece of work (‘Repeal the 8th Amendment’) according to a comment left on the ‘Nasty Women Cambridge’ Facebook page by a friend of the artist ‘…is telling the story of Ann Lovett, an Irish girl who died in her school uniform giving birth to a baby at a grotto in Ireland in 1984.’

I was delighted to manage to also see Issam Kourbaj’s exhibition, ‘LOST.’ It is an extraordinary body of work – poignant and moving – and set in the amazing environment of the Museum of Classical Archaeology.

The exhibition continues until June 9th

Further details here:

http://www.classics.cam.ac.uk/…/exhibitions/exhibitions/lost


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Keeping It Moving’ the blog I wrote while making the short film with Henrietta Thomas, was very much about recording the process & final outcome of a specific piece of work. It was created for the sole purpose of documenting the making of ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ and was a very different experience from writing this one. I didn’t find the more formulaic way of writing – kind of diary style – half as enjoyable, it has to be said. This got me thinking about blog writing in general – and then, specifically, what writing this blog, ‘Keeping It Going’ means to me now, five years on. What purpose does it serve? Is it useful? Still?

The main premise behind ‘Keeping It Going’ was about discovering whether I could manage to maintain it at the same time as being creative in the studio. After five years of maintaining both, I’ve answered that question, I think. What’s happened is that writing the blog has become an integral part of my creative process and has gone hand in hand with producing work. But big changes have taken place since I first started writing it and I’m thinking it’s time for a change in the way I approach things.

Last year felt momentous for me in terms of getting my collections pretty much in one place for the first time in some 20/30 years. 100+ boxes of ‘treasures’ from my past, though labelled and in some sort of order, still need sifting through and editing. I’m eager to get a more thorough grip on what’s where – to reacquaint myself with the many objects that form much of the raw materials for the work I make.

And that’s the crux of it all for me, really – that I’d like to get away from this feeling of going round and round in circles, repeating myself in my writing here – largely about how much I’d like to get the stuff I’ve collected over the years, finally organised. There are only so many times you can write that! This blog is full of such sentiments – a sharp reminder that it’s probably time to stop writing about what I want to do and just get on with doing it!

At the end of last week, while in the process of applying for an exhibition opportunity, I realised that I had included images of a few pieces of work on my blog and yet don’t have a record of them anywhere else. I’d forgotten about a couple of pieces, in fact! I’d like to address this and get my work properly documented, including improved images. I’ve been thinking about it since the start of the year and my plan is to free up more time by taking a break from writing this blog. I’m not very good at just leaving things to peter out, I’ve realised and in this respect, prefer to take some properly defined time out. I’m not declaring this blog completely redundant but for now, it feels important to step back a bit and release time to get on with the things I never seem to find the time to do.

Another more recent development is that I now have a really inspiring place to bring my ‘treasures’ back to, having secured myself a new improved studio space at the end of 2016. I can imagine myself continuing to work much more effectively in this lighter, more spacious environment and given that artists’ studios can be such precarious entities, I want to take full advantage of using it as much as I possibly can – a) while I can afford it (just!) and b) while it’s still there!

I’ll probably want to report back at some point – keen to share images of the many ready-made materials and objects as I uncover them from the 100+ storage boxes, photographing & documenting them along the way. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t, in fact! Having become so accustomed to sharing every new piece of developing work over the past five years, it’s going to be a hard habit to break. But for now, even if on a temporary basis, it feels that this blog has run its course. Perhaps I might start a photo blog? Allow images of the assorted objects to stand alone? This would fit well with my recent thinking about how I’d like to make work without necessarily writing about it or revealing any associated narrative. But that’s a whole other blog post, I think – a discussion for another time, perhaps – in a new blog, sometime in the not too distant future? Who knows!

What I do know though, is that every creative practice needs a shake up now and again – to prevent it from becoming stale and stagnated. I’m looking forward to this new phase – a new beginning and a fresh approach. ‘A change is as good as a rest’ as the adage goes. Well, that’s my hope, anyway …


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I was amazed to learn from a recent Facebook notification that it’s been two years since I made the big studio move – invested in over 100 good solid boxes with lids, hired a van and transported a huge mass of my collections to my friend’s garage. How time flies!

It was after the fiasco of mislaying ‘Bad Head Day’ (a piece of work selected for the Shape Open 2016) that I went through every single box (all 110+) and labelled & listed, as far as possible, what was inside each one of them. It meant having a pretty comprehensive list of the contents of each box and a detailed plan of where each box is situated.

But it was by no means an exhaustive list – moving such a huge bulk of stuff was a mammoth task and the thorough sifting and sorting of the boxes’ contents, lengthy and time consuming. Life has got in the way since then and finding the time to do any further, advanced sorting and labelling has been impossible; I fantasise about having a completely uninterrupted couple of months in which to do it. My main aim is to catalogue every single item in each of the boxes, so that in the future, I’ll have easy access to any given object I might need, at any given point.

 

This past week, I’ve been searching for a small assemblage piece, composed of broken hearing aids – not catalogued. It will be somewhere, I know – I’ve seen it recently while searching for other bits and pieces – but it just proves the importance of maintaining an effective cataloguing system. It’s frustrating not to be able to locate things when you need them and it all plays into my guilt about holding onto to way too much stuff – making me feel that the bulk of materials I own is unmanageable, needs thinning out – and so on, and so on! – that perpetual cycle of doubt for many collectors, I’d imagine – the amount of stuff versus the amount of space to store it.

It was the editing of the short film – particularly the sound editing – that prompted me to recall past work I’ve made around the theme of deafness – the related objects and images I’ve continued to collect, also.

I’ll find the work eventually, but it’s clear I’ve still got some way to go with the cataloguing. I love this part of the process – gathering together and connecting various objects and found images amid the huge mass of stuff I’ve collected over many years – it is, after all, how my work gets made.

I’m just willing the weather to get warmer now, so that the hunting and gathering, both  in the garage and the studio, can be an even more pleasant experience.


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A few weeks have passed now since completing the making of ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ I became totally engrossed in the film making process and it’s taken me a while to stop feeling completely consumed with thoughts of ballerinas and dance.

Found vintage image

 

I’m still not sure what to do with the film or how best to show it to an audience, but I don’t feel under any particular pressure to get it ‘out there’ just yet. Bearing in mind that film making was a completely new experience for me and I’ve had (and still have) a lot to digest and process, the timing for making it public feels important. So, it’s parked for now, waiting for when it feels right to launch it.

In the meantime, as so often happens, working on one thing has led to another; I’ve been thinking a lot about sound and levels of hearing – specifically, my own and the struggle I sometimes had with hearing in the final editing process – especially the sound edit. I’ve been thinking about how much my deafness might have impacted on my decision making and general directing of the film. Thoughts around this, in turn, led me to seek out a file that I knew I had stored away somewhere.

Found vintage image

 

The file is marked simply ‘DEAF’ and in it are various cuttings and images that I’ve collected over the years, relating to deafness, hearing, sign language, communication, etc. It’s fascinating to see how the images relate to each other, however arbitrarily. I also came across a plastic model of the interior of an ear – it’s always exciting to unearth these forgotten ‘treasures.’ Whether or not something comes out of this recent refind remains to be seen, but my focus in the studio today has been on sorting and laying out the raw materials I already have to hand.


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